It’s easy to look at a habit as being a negative thing. ‘Bad habit’ rolls more easily off the tongue than ‘good habit’ and it reminds of us of things we are addicted to, things that taken in excess are bad for our health. We smoke, we drink, we eat too much, we watch TV too often and we get so tuned into Netflix, we don’t even get the amount of sleep we should. It may not be our intention to form negative habits, but it happens. But there are good habits too. Maybe you always greet people with a smile, maybe you are good at drinking water regularly or you invest your time in a hobby that you do at the same time each week.
For an action to become a habit, it must be done repeatedly and mindfully and to gain positive changes and it doesn’t happen overnight. Habits are more deeply engrained than normal daily routines – they’re automatic, which means they are difficult to create but they are also difficult to break – so don’t feel disheartened if you are finding it tricky. As tempting as it is to try and change multiple habits at once, it’s important to focus on one at a time, so take your time.
A study at the University of London demonstrated that you can effectively promote habit formation through positive feedback for yourself, structuring your efforts and monitoring your progress. Transforming your life will take work, but with perseverance it can be done. Here’s eight simple ways you can create good habits that will impact your daily life for the better.
1. Be mindful
Interest in mindfulness has been on the rise, and it is one of the most crucial practices in integrating positive habitual changes into your life. Mindfulness is being aware of your own thoughts, mental processes and body, which brings a sense of peace, calm and understanding. Try to make a habit of being more mindful and aware about the things going on around you and how you are feeling.
Mindfulness for you might be taking time to appreciate your surroundings or it could be to just take time out to thank people for what they do for you. If you develop a habit of being mindful and monitoring what is going on inside you, chances are you will find the acquisition of other positive habits much easier.
2. Define your priorities:
One of the reasons you may be feeling low or unfulfilled, is that your pouring a lot of your time and energy into the wrong things in your personal or your professional life. Start thinking long term – what are your ultimate goals? When we complete actions without thought and thinking about your priorities, sometimes we start doing the wrong things. Things that aren’t good for us. With every action you do, try to work out if it’s stopping you from doing something important. This begins to bring your life more meaning.
Developing this habit can be helped by using a diary to plan in things that are meaningful for you. Maybe you want to spend more time with family, or you want to do more exercise. Use whatever is best for you to plan things that will help you get what you want out of your life and write down your top priorities somewhere you can see them.
3. Practice resilience
It’s hard not to quit when the going gets tough. Things in life knock you down and it’s hard to get back out there and keep going. So many of us strive for perfection and we feel bad about ourselves when we don’t complete as many tasks as you would like. Tough times can test us and when they do, it’s important you make the habit of picking yourself up, dusting yourself off and keep going. Even though we’ve all failed in the past, we still have difficulty in coming to terms with it. We only see the negative aspects of a failure, which is why we’re so afraid of it. Resilience is a person’s capacity to respond to failure, pressure and the stresses of daily life. To practice resilience, you have to put yourself in situations where you are learning how to fail and how to react when things aren’t going to plan. You can practice resilience through trying a new skill or trying something again that you might once have failed at.
It’s enjoyable to slouch around and be lazy (and sometimes it’s okay!), but for your mental and physical health, exercise is key. Doctors recommend that you should do 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise three times a week and it’s incredibly important for your health. However, it’s also important to make exercise enjoyable. Find an activity where getting fit and being healthy is the by-product, not the purpose. Maybe you love playing badminton, adore swimming or just can’t get enough of dancing. Plan it into your routine and make habits of enhancing exercise in other areas of your life such as choosing walking over driving. Completing these activities will help your all-round health and mood. If you’re moving, it’s working!
5. Say yes – New experiences /Get out of your comfort zone
I get it. It’s the end of the day and you are in the habit of getting home, putting on your pyjamas and vegging out watching the TV. It’s lovely isn’t it. Quite often we are grateful when friends cancel plans and we say no to opportunities because we are happy and comfortable where we are. Saying no, can become a negative automatic habit. So, say yes! Begin to say yes to new experiences to expand your comfort zone. You can even begin small; practice saying yes to getting one more cup of coffee with a friend, say yes to going to a dance class after work or agree to go rock climbing. Saying yes and opening yourself up to new experiences will also excite your curiosity and your need for adventure. Once your habit of saying yes is put into place, you never know how many exciting opportunities might come your way.
6. Practice positive automatic thoughts:
You’re in a changing room at look at yourself in the mirror – “I look huge” you say to yourself.
You see a friend across the street and wave, but they don’t look up – “they’re avoiding me” you think instantly.
Sometimes our reaction to a situation is automatic and you get yourself into a cycle of doubt and negativity. This is one of the most difficult habits to break, but awareness is the first and most important. Recognise when you have had an automatic negative response and ask yourself the question ‘where is the evidence?’. Weigh up each situation where you feel down and hurt and assess if you think you’re being rational. Rather than thinking someone is avoiding you, say to yourself ‘they didn’t see me’. Or, if you know a situation is going to make you automatically negative, such as going into a shopping changing room, write an argument down before you go in. Rather than thinking ‘I look huge’ try thinking ‘lots of people tell me I look lovely’. Say it out loud or write it down! The more you repeat this action the more automatic it will become. You will feel positive about yourself in no time.
7. Practice active listening:
Listening to people with the whole attention they deserve often falls off the radar when we are busy. Our heads are too preoccupied with work, school or our own troubles. It limits the connection we feel with other people and because of this you can miss a huge amount. When you are speaking to people, whether it is family and friends or a shop attendant, practice listening actively. Active listening is a conscious decision to listen to and understand the messages the speaker has for you. Not only will it deepen your friendships and relationships with people, but it will create a positive environment in which you will be welcome and feel happy and confident. As an extra to this, try and remember the information people tell you and talk about it with them later. It shows you were listening and is always greatly appreciated.
8. Create a routine:
Creating a good routine is the best way to encompass and fit in all of these new habits you have formed. Life structure, alongside stress, is one of the largest contributors to overall mental health. Make time for the things you enjoy and check to see your work/life balance is staying in check. Waking up earlier in the morning could allow you to do some of the things you don’t have time for during the day; exercising, reading or have a proper breakfast. Planning a nighttime routine such as having a bath before bed or reading a book can help you sleep much better. Planning a nighttime cinema trip can make work the next morning feel much less difficult. Throughout the basics, make time for the people and things you love.
We hope you have enjoyed reading this list of transformative habits. Again, don’t try to take on too much at once. Good habits, especially long-lasting habits will take a long time to cultivate but once they are part of you, they will be with you for life.
Hope you are all having a wonderful day.